The Crown

Doomsday King

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Swedish death metal band the Crown have been at it for two decades, first under the name Crown of Thorns and using their current moniker since 1998. They've sustained relatively few membership changes, only swapping vocalists; between 1990 and 2001, they were fronted by Johan Lindstrand, who left, was replaced by Tomas Lindberg, and then returned again. On this reunion album, their first since 2003's Possessed 13, they've recruited the relatively unknown Jonas Stålhammar as singer, and he's a pretty good choice. His guttural roar is easily the equal of his predecessors in terms of raw power, and his breath control is impressive as hell -- even the fastest songs have clearly decipherable lyrics. Musically speaking, the Crown haven't lost a step despite disbanding in 2004. And the fact that they've been working together as long as they have makes them a pretty unstoppable musical machine. Drummer Janne Saarenpää crushes the drum kit beneath his fists as guitarists Marcus Sunesson and Marko Tervonen cut loose with wild, shredding solos and savage death metal riffs. As is so often the case in extreme metal, bassist Magus Olsfelt doesn't contribute much more than a rumbling sound buried in the mix, but the band is ungodly tight, providing a perfect foundation for Stålhammar's howls and growls. It's easy to hear the influence of both Slayer and At the Gates in the Crown's sound, and not quite so simple to pinpoint anything that makes them unique, but this is metal, where (as with country, hardcore, or the blues) devotion to craft counts for as much as, if not more than, radical sonic innovation. The Crown are very good at what they do, and fans will enjoy this album a great deal.

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